Tag:Bilal Powell
Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:55 am
 

CBSSports.com College Football 100: 60-51

By the Eye on College Football bloggers

To celebrate the (now fewer than) 100 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related
things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.

60. PHIL KNIGHT, head honcho/sugar daddy, Nike. He just might be the most passionate college football fan in the country worth $12 billion or more. Actually, Phil Knight is one of the most passionate college football fans in the country, period. The co-founder and chairman of Nike, Knight has an imprint on the sport unlike just about any other individual. In addition to Nike having contracts with all but a handful of schools, Knight has given millions of dollars to Oregon (his alma mater) and Stanford (where he went to grad school) athletics.

Knight has been ingrained as the poster boy for Oregon football the past few years, despite trying to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible. There's good reason for his status as one of the most powerful boosters in the country, though, whether it be having an athletic department official personally report news of a Duck recruiting commitment or listening in to play calls in his suite during games. His reach, through Nike, is even impacting college football fashion choices. While the Ducks have made the leap to BCS contender every year, they're also at the cutting edge of uniform design, and that's slowly filtering down to other Nike programs like Arizona State. Phil Knight might not be the most powerful person in college athletics ... but he certainly comes close. --BF

59. MICHAEL FLOYD, wide receiver, Notre Dame. At this point we don't even know if Michael Floyd will be playing football for Notre Dame this fall. After he surprised a lot of people in South Bend and decided to return for his senior season, Floyd was busted for a DUI - his third alcohol related offense since coming to Notre Dame. He could have been kicked out of school but survived the notorious ResLife board, though he's still under suspension from his head coach, Brian Kelly. Kelly has said that Floyd will either play every game for Notre Dame this season, or he won't play any, and that decision will have a huge impact on the Irish this year.

Odds are, Floyd is going to play. The fact is that he's one of the most important members of the Notre Dame offense, and his presence on the field could be the difference-maker between another 8-5 season and a possible return to the BCS for the Golden Domers. Floyd is one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the country, and may be the best red zone receiver in college football. His 28 career touchdown catches are a Notre Dame record and, if he plays, he'll likely break the school's records for yards and receptions as well. -- TF

58. MARQUEIS GRAY, quarterback/wide receiver (?), Minnesota. MarQueis Gray is something of an enigma in Minneapolis; the high school Army All-American quarterback was a recruiting coup for Tim Brewster and Minnesota back in 2008, but since then Gray has mainly spent his time at wide receiver for the Gophers, taking a backseat to the now-departed Adam Weber. Gray has lined up at quarterback a few times in his first couple years on the field, but it's usually been to execute a running play of some kind, as Gray's passing has been mostly disastrous--he's completed just 8 of 23 attempts thus far, and that includes a 5-of-6 performance against Ohio State. Take that out, and it's a surreal 3-of-17. (Only one interception in those 23 passes though, so at least when Gray misses, he misses everybody.)

Still, it's hard not to be tantalized by Gray's prospects as a quarterback. He has the size (6'4" and a strong 230) to play under center at the next level, his arm strength is legitimate, and he's plenty fast. All in all, he has such physical skills that Brewster had to get him on the field one way or another, and that's how his first two years played out at receiver. But at some point, someone with Gray's potential has to turn "on the field one way or another" into "on the field and leading his team," and if Gray can't make significant progress on that front in 2011, new head coach Jerry Kill's first season is going to be a long one. -- AJ

57. DORIAL GREEN-BECKHAM, wide receiver, Hillcrest High School (Springfield, Mo.).  The nation's top high school football player according to MaxPreps analyst Tom Lemming, Dorial Green-Beckham is appropriately one of the most sought-after high school players in the country, if not the most sought-after player in the country. With his combination of speed and size, Green-Beckham has drawn comparisons to Randy Moss. Perhaps it's no surprise that one of the best photos in the MaxPreps database (at left) is of the star receiver is him making a leaping, one-handed grab.

Green-Beckham is considering schools closer to home, such as Missouri and Oklahoma, along with several SEC schools. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound receiver does not have a timetable as to when he'll choose a school, but he is looking to make his choice known on Signing Day so this will be a process that lasts until February. Recruiting has taken a back seat for Green-Beckham at the moment, though, as his younger brother Darnell is going through treatment for leukemia. As Dorial and his entire family goes through this grueling ordeal with Darnell, it's an important reminder of life outside of the game of football. -- BF

56. CHARLIE STRONG, head coach, Louisville. When Strong finally got the tap to join the head coaching community, his peers were elated and Louisville fans were excited to see what the heralded defensive coordinator could do with the Cardinals. He was brought in to fix what Steve Kragthorpe had broken, and in one season he was able to deliver the program's first bowl win since the Bobby Petrino era. The 2010 team was loaded with veterans on defense, and anchored by Bilal Powell's 1,405 yards of downhill running.

With Powell and many starters gone from last year's squad, Strong will have to deliver a repeat performance with less tools in the shed. To make matters worse, his team was decimated by injury this spring. The plague got so bad for the Cardinals that the spring "game" was changed to a scrimmage; the only way to practice with the offensive line became sunrise sessions that worked with the class schedules of the few healthy lineman. The second-year head coach maintained a positive outlook, but was honest about the obstacles he faced with the already-inexperienced team this spring. The coaching challenge for Strong is even greater in 2011--unfortunately, after 2010's success, the expectations might be even higher. -- CP

55. E.J. MANUEL, quarterback, Florida State. The revival in Tallahassee has been one of the most prominent offseason stories in the ACC. Jimbo Fisher's first season at the helm brought an Atlantic Division title, a Chick-Fil-A Bowl win over SEC runner-up South Carolina, and their first 10-win season since 2003. Already pegged as the favorite in the ACC, and possibly a national title contender, the expectations are back at Florida State. And much of the weight of those expectations falls on the shoulders of quarterback E.J. Manuel.

Manuel is no stranger to leading the Seminoles. Frequently over the last two seasons he has stepped in for the oft-injured Christian Ponder. But the appearances near the end of 2010 (against Clemson, Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, and then the Gamecocks in the bowl game) showed a more mature and dangerous playmaker than Florida State fans had seen before. Manuel kept himself composed on the biggest stage, being called on at the last minute in both situations to step in and lead the offense. He didn't have a fantastic spring, but Fisher is confident in his starter's ability to lead this team all the way to the top. Now the pressure is on Manuel to prove him right. -- CP

54. HARVEY UPDYKE, accused tree poisoner, Dadeville, Ala. No, "Al from Dadeville" isn't about to suit up for his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide, isn't about to steal any signals from his hated Auburn Tigers, isn't about to do anything to impact events on the field. But his (alleged) destructive actions will resonate throughout the season off the field, as college football learns to confront not only its increasingly rabid fandoms, but the Internet soapboxes and radio call-in echo chambers that help turn the healthy love of a favorite team into something toxic. If 2011 proves to be the year where the sport takes a legitimate step towards hooliganism, Updyke will have been the tipping point.

And of course, that goes double in the state of Alabama. Updyke isn't in any way representative of the Tide fanbase as a whole, nor that of the Tide's rivals on the Plains; the outpouring of support from Tuscaloosa after the poisoning announcement (and -- though in a situation so much more serious the two perhaps shouldn't be mentioned in the same paragraph -- from Auburn after the tornado tragedy) is far more typical of the majority of the state's football fans. Still, the same mad passion for college football that helped make Alabama the sport's epicenter the previous two seasons also unquestionably helped spawn the likes of Updyke. As the Tide gears up for another potential title run, the specter of "Al from Dadeville" -- and the potential for harm its school spirit-gone-wrong represents -- will continue to linger over the Iron Bowl ... and all of college football. -- JH

53. TOM O'BRIEN, head coach, N.C. State. In his fourth year since arriving at N.C. State from Boston College, O'Brien was able to deliver just the Wolfpack's second season since 1994 with at least nine wins. His team even came within one victory of the ACC Championship Game berth, then made up for that disappointment with an impressive 23-7 victory over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl. For the time being, O'Brien could do no wrong. Wolfpack fans said their goodbyes to baseball-bound star quarterback Russell Wilson, and O'Brien began focusing on repeating the success from 2010.

Then in late April, Wilson decided that he wanted to come back to college football. That's when O'Brien stood strong on his word and made one of the more unconventional (and possibly influential) coaching decisions in recent memory. He stuck by junior quarterback Mike Glennon as his starter, and Wilson was granted a release from his scholarship. With one year of eligibility remaining, Wilson could end up being the final piece to a BCS team looking to get to the next level, or he could end up the next Jeremiah Masoli--a round peg trying to quickly fit into a square hole. Glennon, meanwhile, could be the star gunslinger he was thought to be as a recruit, or maybe the three years on the sideline behind Wilson have made him rusty. There are many different endings to the Wolfpack's 2011 story, but it all started with O'Brien's decision to let Wilson walk out the door. -- CP

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52. DAN PERSA, quarterback, Northwestern. Persa had quite the eventful five seconds last November 13. He threw a game-winning touchdown to Demetrius Fields in a 21-17 win over Iowa, then came down awkwardly on his right leg and ruptured his Achilles tendon, ending his season. And it was a stellar season, at that; Persa was in the top 10 nationally in passing efficiency, and at the time of his injury he was leading the Wildcats in rushing yards by a substantial margin. Northwestern would go on the finish 0-3 after Persa's injury (although that might have more to do with the 163 points they gave up in those contests than anything else).

Fortunately, Persa's rehab is on track, and he's probably going to be back under center for Northwestern come this September. Achilles injuries are tricky, though, and Persa's mobility is probably going to be affected to some extent. Doubtless, Pat Fitzgerald would like to rush his quarterback less anyway, seeing as how Persa's 2010 workload was more necessity than luxury, but that means someone in Northwestern's backfield is going to have to step up in 2011. Mike Trumpy, perhaps? They're probably hoping so in Evanston. -- AJ

51. TOMMY TUBERVILLE, head coach, Texas Tech. Not every red Raider fan was thrilled with the idea of replacing Mike Leach with Tommy Tuberville last season. It was kind of like Tech had traded in its Ferrari Enzo for a Ford Focus. There's nothing wrong with the Focus, as it'll get you where you want to go, gets nice mileage and is extremely dependable ... but it's not a Ferrari. Still, in 2010 at least, it's not as though the Texas Tech offense became a replica of Tuberville's conservative Auburn teams; the Raiders still finished seventh in the country in passing yards and 23rd nationally in points-per-game.

The problem -- as is normally the case in Lubbock -- was a defense that allowed over 30 points a contest. Tuberville got to where he is as a head coach by coaching defense, and as he enters his second season in Lubbock, we should start to see the defense improve. And if that starts to happen, fans may have to adjust to a less active scoreboard, but they may start seeing a lot more wins as well. Tuberville's track record at Texas A&M, Miami, Ole Miss and Auburn shows that Tech is going to be a better team long-term with him at the helm, a difference the Raiders should start seeing in 2011. -- TF

The 100 will continue here on Eye on CFB tomorrow. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91, 90-81, 80-71 and 70-61. You can also keep up with the 100 by following us on Twitter.




Posted on: May 26, 2011 2:04 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:57 am
 

CBSSports.com College Football 100: 90-81

By the Eye on College Football bloggers

To celebrate the 100 99 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related
things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.

90. T.Y. HILTON, receiver/returner, FIU. Every so often, a player rises up from the lower rungs of college football to make a credible run at the Heisman Trophy: Garrett Wolfe at Northern Illinois, Steve McNair at Alcorn State, Gordie Lockbaum once upon a time at Holy Cross. And if that's happening this year, the smartest bet is on Hilton, the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year and leader in all-purpose yardage.

But if Hilton does make a splash nationally, it won't be for his accolades, statistics, or even team success (though Hilton led his Golden Panthers to their first bowl berth and conference title last season, and could repeat the feat). It'll be for his electric playmaking, on full display in last year's Little Caesar's Bowl, when his 89-yard kickoff return for touchdown and 4th-and-17 conversion keyed a thrilling Panther comeback. Put a few more of those types of plays on SportsCenter (particularly in an early-season Friday night visit to Louisville), and the sky -- or more specifically, New York -- might be the limit. -- JH

89. LOGAN THOMAS, quarterback, Virginia Tech. Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies have won four conference championships and four Coastal Division titles. The league's expansion might have expected to highlight Florida State and Miami, but it has been the Hokies who have most often represented the conference on the national stage. But for the last four years of that run, the Hokies were had ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor. Now Taylor is gone, and it's Thomas who's set to take his place.

The redshirt sophomore has already impressed coaches and teammates with his performance in spring practice, and the hopes are high for his first season as the Hokies starter. Standing at 6-foot-6, Thomas often looked like the big brother as Taylor tutored him throughout last season. With quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain now assuming the play-calling duties, the offense will run through Thomas. Tech has many of the pieces in place to defend their ACC championship, but they'll need Thomas to settle in quickly to get it done. -- CP

88. AT&T PARK, temporary home stadium, Cal. For the first time since 1923, the California Golden Bears will play their home games somewhere other than California Memorial Stadium. As the university enters the final stages of their $321 million retrofit and renovation project, the Bears will play their home games at AT&T Park in San Francisco - home of the Giants. The setup for football won't be entirely foreign for the venue -- it's the home of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl -- but it will be an inconvenient trip for players, students and fans so used to their home games in Berkeley.

With four critical, winnable home games on their Pac-12 slate (highlighted by visits from USC and Utah), how well the Bears adapt to their new surroundings could well determine the trajectory of Jeff Tedford's Bears tenure. After four seasons with no fewer than four losses and no league finish higher than fourth, Tedford needs a big year to avoid a make-or-break 2012 season, and given the Bears' rigorous road schedule (at Oregon, at Stanford) that simply won't happen if Cal spits the bit at AT&T Park. The stadium could be Tedford's sanctuary; it could prove to be his house of horrors. -- CP

87. VICTOR ANDERSON, running back, Louisville. In 2008, Anderson rushed for 1,047 yards and 8 touchdowns, numbers good enough for him to be named the Big East Rookie of the Year. But nagging injuries over the last two seasons have prevented Anderson from recapturing that freshman form. Now, for the first time since that promising campaign, Anderson is 100 percent healthy.

Just in time, too, for Charlie Strong's second season as Cardinal head coach. With very little chance to prove himself in 2010, some believed that sophomore Jeremy Wright might replace the dominant Bilal Powell as the 'Ville's starting running back. But after one of his best springs since stepping on campus, Anderson has reclaimed the greater share of snaps in the Cardinals' backfield. There will be a lot of pressure for Strong to repeat the success of 2010, and he's already shown his affection for the rushing game. If the Cardinals are going back to the postseason again, they'll need 2008's Anderson (or better) in 2011. -- CP

86. CASE KEENUM'S KNEE, body part, Houston quarterback. The coronation of college football's newest passing king looked to be in serious jeopardy last fall when Keenum, a senior, suffered a season-ending ACL tear during an ill-advised attempt at a tackle against UCLA. Keenum had been on pace to set NCAA records in career yards and touchdowns before the injury, but there's no progress to be made there on the sidelines.

Fortunately for Keenum, he was granted a sixth year of eligibility this January, meaning not only does he have another shot at setting those NCAA records, but he's 636 yards and three touchdowns closer. At this point, the biggest obstancle in Keenum's way is his own health. His rehab's on track so far, and he's going to be doing 7-on-7 drills with his receivers to get that all-important timing down, but how is he going to respond physically and mentally to this setback? Can he still set those records? Will his knee allow him to? -- AJ

85. LSU AT ALABAMA, potential Game of the Year, SEC. In a division where as many as four or five teams can have realistic dreams of a top-10 season and a trip to Atlanta, there's no shortage of "Game of the Year" candidates. Pair off any one of Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State -- a group featuring three of the last four national champions, a fourth team coming off a Sugar Bowl berth, and a fifth coached by a man with two national title rings himself -- and you're going to get not only a potential classic, but the game that could decide the outcome of the nation's hands-down strongest division.

But even taking into account the South Carolina-Georgia-Florida round-robin in the East, the single game most likely to produce the SEC's 2011 champion will be played between the Tide and Tigers on Nov. 5. Both teams will bring wicked defenses, explosive athletes, powerful running games (at least, if we're right about Spencer Ware) ... and potentially shaky quarterback situations that could derail either team's title dreams. It all collides head-on in Tuscaloosa, and whatever the result, the SEC season won't be remotely the same in its aftermath. -- JH

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84. MARCUS COKER, running back, Iowa. The breakout star of the 2010 Insight Bowl was true freshman tailback Marcus Coker, who ran for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries in Iowa's 27-24 win over Missouri. Coker busted out several highlight-reel plays, including a 62-yard touchdown sprint and a 35-yard gain in which Coker plain ran over senior safety Jarrell Harrison at the point of attack.

Coker -- who probably would have redshirted were it not for a slew of injuries in front of him on the depth chart -- is now the unquestioned workhorse in the Iowa backfield after the departures of every other tailback with even one down of experience. He's clearly got the physical gifts to make it work (and a talented, veteran line in front of him), but will Coker's bruising style of play hold up through an entire season in the Big Ten? --AJ

83. DANNY O'BRIEN, quarterback, Maryland. When 2010's ACC Rookie of the Year takes the field for his sophomore campaign this fall, in some ways it will feel as new as last September when the Kernersville, NC native took the conference by storm. After leading the Terrapins within a game of an Atlantic Division title, head coach Ralph Friedgen was fired, and offensive coordinator James Franklin took the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. O'Brien's favorite receiver, junior Torrey Smith, took his 1,055 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns to the NFL.

Now O'Brien returns with expectations to repeat last year's success in College Park. But this go-round he has a new head coach (Randy Edsall) and new offensive coordinator (Gary Crowton). Luckily, neither coach is lacking in experience, and there should be plenty of learning opportunities for the sophomore gunslinger. Now O'Brien must seize control of those opportunities to keep Maryland --as Terps fans expect -- in the Atlantic Division hunt. -- CP

82. DECLAN SULLIVAN, late student videographer, Notre Dame. Though Notre Dame's 2010 campaign finished on a high note on the field, the season had already been irreparably marred by the tragic October death of Declan Sullivan. Sullivan lost his life when the scissor lift he was on while filming an Irish practice toppled over in high winds. (At right, that's a picture of Oregon's D.J. Davis wearing Sullivan's photo on his handwarmer as a tribute.) Notre Dame was fined for the accident and has since taken steps to make sure it never happens again, filming practice by placing cameras at different angles around the field rather than putting students on top of lifts.

It's a practice that a lot of schools would be smart to adapt, and it's one example of how Sullivan's legacy -- we desperately hope -- impacts the 2011 season and beyond. Whether it's discontinuing the use of lifts, using better equipment to reduce the risk of injury, closer supervision of player workouts, even more regular medical check-ups for stressed-out coaches, college football must do a better job of ensuring the safety of those involved with it. The lesson from the Sullivan tragedy is that those in charge must be proactive in making the necessary changes; even if the number of deaths from lift incidents stops, forever, at one, that one is still far, far too many. -- TF

81. WILL LYLES, scouting service director, Houston, Texas. The man who runs Complete Scouting Services has become the face of one of the NCAA's latest, biggest targets: scouting services. These alleged "street agents" associated with different scouting services came under fire earlier this spring when it was revealed that Oregon paid Lyles $24,000 for his services before signing coveted recruit Lache Seatrunk. Since then, the public has slowly learned more and more about the scouting service industry.  

What they have learned is that Oregon is not the only school that uses them.  In fact, many schools pay scouting services for DVD's, measurements, and other information that may help in recruiting.  But the dollar amounts in some cases do not exactly fall in line with "standard prices."  Lyles is currently being investigated by the NCAA for his ties to Seastrunk, LaMichael James (also at Oregon), and Patrick Peterson (formerly of LSU).  If the NCAA decides that Lyles helped lead them to their respective schools, he would become a booster and thus a walking violation of NCAA rules. If (or when) the NCAA crackdown on scouting services takes its next step, it will be because of the spotlight on Lyles. -- CP

Check back tomorrow at Eye on CFB for Nos. 80-71 on the countdown, click here for Nos. 100-91, or follow us on Twitter for the latest updates on the 100 ... and everything else college football.



Posted on: December 22, 2010 12:51 am
Edited on: December 22, 2010 12:57 am
 

Bowl Grades: Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

Louisville storms back from a two touchdown deficit to defeat Southern Mississippi 31-28

LOUISVILLE

Offense: When Louisville came out throwing the ball, I must say I did not have high hopes for their prospects of winning.  After all, running back Bilal Powell is one of the best rushers in the nation behind a veteran offensive line.  But Southern Miss forced Justin Burke to keep the offense balanced for most of the game.  When Louisville's offense needed to step up and eat some clock in the fourth quarter, they kept converting to keep drives alive.  Eating up more than ten minutes of the clock in the final period, the rushing game finally sealed the deal for the Cardinals.  GRADE: B+

Defense: Going to group special teams in with defense, in which case we have to discuss the moment the game changed.  After a completely scoreless third quarter, Southern Miss scored on the first play of the fourth quarter to take a 28-27 lead with no signs of Louisville really threatening to score since the first half.  Freshman running back Jeremy Wright took the kickoff 95 yards the other way for an immediate answer that let the air out of Southern Mississippi's momentum.  The Golden Eagles didn't really bounce back from that one, so the defense benefited?  GRADE: B 

Coaching: This has been a great week for first-year coach Charlie Strong.  First he snags former Miami quarterback commit Teddy Bridgewater from the Hurricanes, adding the top-ranked dual threat quarterback to Louisville's 2011 recruiting class.  After putting in some work on the future, Strong was able to get Louisville a win in their first bowl appearance since 2006.  I have a feeling the Cardinals fans are pretty happy with their new head coach right now. GRADE: A-

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI

Offense: The Golden Eagles hit the ground running in the first quarter, with two fast scoring strikes that shellshocked the Louisville defense.  With how fast they started, the final takeaway for Southern Miss has to be a little sour on the offensive end.  In particular, two fourth quarter drives of 17 and -7 yards that both ended in punts.  If one of the highest scoring offenses can turn one of those drives into points we may be having a difference conversation.  GRADE: C  

Defense: While Southern Mississippi's ability to score quick provides an adavantage in close games, it was their defense's inability to stop Louisville from driving that ended up being their demise.  Louisville chewed up 10:52 across two drives in the fourth quarter.  Those drives only produced three points, but the time they chewed up left Southern Mississippi with only real opportunity to put together a game-winning drive.  They did not give up 40+ points or any absurd statistics, but as projected, Southern Mississippi's loss falls on the shoulders of the defense.  GRADE: D

Coaching: Head coach Larry Fedora game in with just the right gameplan: they wanted to take some chances early, keep the speed up on offense, and hit them in the face early on defense.  The only problem was being able to keep it up for 60 minutes.  Hard to put the kickoff return on the coaches, but after Wright's return in the fourth quarter the Golden Eagles never really bounced back.  GRADE: B

FINAL GRADE 
Considering the three blow outs served up in the first weekend of bowl games, the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl was a friendly change of pace.  There were big plays, a two-score comeback, and the game came down to the last minutes.  Can't ask for much more than that.  Highlighted by this incredible reverse-WR pass to quarterback Austin Davis (WHICH HE GRABS WITH ONE HAND) I must say it was a pretty good game for a pre-Christmas bowl. GRADE: B+

Posted on: December 20, 2010 6:47 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2010 10:27 am
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

Why to watch: These teams have already started to tussle, with Southern Miss getting disrespected by their former conference rivals , and there has already been promise of payback on the field. Additionally, the game pits former colleagues against each other. Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora and Louisville's Charlie Strong served on the Florida coaching staff together from 2002-2004. The Golden Eagles are entering their ninth straight postseason appearance, while Strong has succeeded in getting Louisville back into the bowl schedule for the first time since 2006. Both teams have a lot of pride on the line, and with these early bowls "showing up" sometimes is more than half the battle. I expect both teams to show up ready to play on Tuesday.

Keys to victory for Louisville: Louisville's best performances all season involved a heavy dose of the running game. Mostly that will be anchored by running back Bilal Powell (120.9 yards per game), but even when Powell was banged up reserves Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson carried the ball well behind the Cardinals offensive line.

Running the ball will be key to keeping the high-scoring Southern Miss offense off the field, as well as setting up the play-action down the field. It would not be surprising to see both Adam Froman and Justin Burke at quarterback for Louisville, and both of them should have no trouble finding an opportunity to take advantage of a Southern Miss secondary that gave up an average of 248.8 yards per game through the air in 2010.

Keys to victory for Southern Miss: West Virginia was one of the few teams to really shut down Louisville's rushing attack, holding Powell to zero yards in one half of play and getting the Cardinals' leading rusher sent to the bench at the break. The Golden Eagles are no West Virginia, but they can try to do just enough to create drive-ending stops. If they can keep the Cardinals from getting in the end zone, Austin Davis and the offense should be able to do work on Louisville's defense. Strong has improved the Cardinals defense, but they were inconsistent across 2010.

Davis was very consistent under center for Southern Miss, throwing for 2989 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season. He has plenty of weapons, and the offense scheme stretches the defense to leave seams open for the running game. If Davis can get comfortable and hit a rhythm, and the aforementioned Golden Eagles secondary can keep from giving up the big play, Southern Miss could answer Louisville's pre-game taunts with a bowl victory.

The Beef 'O' Bradys St. Petersburg Bowl is like: Hot Tub Time Machine - I mean, it is kind of absurd. A collegiate bowl game named after Beef 'O' Brady's. No respectable game should have that many apostrophes in the official title. But similar to Hot Tub Time Machine , there is some promise to the game. It may come in the form of cheap thrills (fights, wacky turnovers, etc.), but there is enough on the line for both teams to know that they will at least be fired up to play. It will likely not be the game we remember the most come January (or Wednesday), but there is enough intrigue to sit down and check it out.
Posted on: November 7, 2010 12:23 am
Edited on: November 7, 2010 12:26 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Nov. 6)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Good things can come to those who wait - South Florida running back sixth year running back Moise Plancher has dealt with a torn ACL, dislocated elbow, and shoulder surgery since enrolling in Tampa, but finally saw his hard work pay off on Wednesday night against Rutgers.  Plancher rushed 21 times for a career-high 135 yards, leading the Bulls in their 28-27 squeaker of a victory in Tampa.  It was ironic that the youngest team in the FBS (South Florida) collected the 100th program victory against the oldest team in college football, but for first-year coach Skip Holtz it was perfect timing.  The Bulls are now 5-3. and with four games left in conference play have plenty of time to make their case for a favorable bowl bid.  

2. Louisville's rushing attack is interchangeable - Heading into Saturday's matchup with Syracuse, Cardinal fans were nervous about facing the Orange defense without leading rusher Bilal Powell.  Powell leads the Big East and ranks among the top five nationally, but backup running back Jeremy Wright had no trouble filling in and picking up Powell's usual production.  Wright rushed 19 times for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns to anchor Louisville's offensive attack against the Orange in the Carrier Dome.  With the win, first-year coach Charlie Strong came one game closer to bowl eligibility, a feat for a team that looked destined for disappointment earlier in the season.  

3. Pittsburgh may have been off, but their hold on the conference was threatened - The Panthers were off this week, securing their undefeated conference record for another week.  But what we learned in the Big East this week was a little bit more about some teams the Panthers have in their future.  Pittsburgh still has to face West Virginia, Cincinnati, South Florida, and Connecticut to before claiming any conference accolades, and after seeing the Bulls in action against Rutgers that might be more difficult than expected.  Louisville proved that there is no "elite" status in the conference, and the Panthers are no exception just because they have yet to lose a game in league play.  Any of Pittsburgh's remaining opponents have the talent on board to knock off the Panthers, so there are no guarantees in the final weeks of Big East play.
Posted on: November 3, 2010 4:45 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2010 4:55 pm
 

Previewing Week 10 in the Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Big East has been busy making headlines this week with the announcement of planned expansion to ten football-playing schools.  The announcement solidifies many reports and has started speculation on everything from school selection, to timeframe, and even the potential changes to the college football landscape.  Seems fitting that the Big East would choose this week to make their most significant off-field announcement, because there is very little action on the field in Week 10.

Last week, Pittsburgh and Syracuse separated themselves from the rest of the conference by picking up their third conference victory.  Behind them is 1-1 Rutgers, and the rest of the conference is tied at 1-2.  The Panthers are not only a half-game ahead of the Orange, but also own the tiebreaker against Syracuse and Rutgers thanks to victories earlier in the season.  With only a month left in conference play the conference race is not over, but PIttsburgh does carry their own fate from here on out.  It would require two conference losses for the Panthers to be in jeopardy of losing the automatic BCS berth, and even then another team would have to win out.    

But the conference still holds six bowl ties, and every team is still technically capable of making the postseason at this point.  Most of the games left on the schedule are all conference games, and with seven teams 4-4 or better, each game will hold extra importance to anyone hoping to play football in December.  So while it may be hard to chase down conference-leading Pittsburgh, there is still plenty to play for.  The Panthers get Week 10 off, as does West Virginia, Connecticut, and Cincinnati.  

Wednesday - Rutgers at South Florida -  While they try to keep their focus on the field, it is impossible to ignore the health of defensive tackle Eric LaGrand, paralyzed while making a tackle against Army on October 16.  Thankfully, LaGrand was transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation center on Wednesday, which as about as good as news will come on that front.  With a win, South Florida could come within a game of bowl eligibility.  It has been an up and down season for first-year head coach Skip Holtz, and a postseason berth would put a happy ending on his trial run with the Bulls.  I expect quarterback B.J. Daniels to build on his four TD performance against Cincinnati with another big outing.  PICK - South Florida 28, Rutgers 21 

Saturday - Louisville at Syracuse - Louisville could be without Bilal Powell, the conference's leading rusher, but will get backup Victor Anderson back for the first time in three games.  The Cardinal rushing attack is ranked among the top 25 in the nation, but they will face their greatest challenge against the Syracuse defense.  In the six Syracuse victories, the Orange have held their opponents to 14 points or less.  They have complimented that defense with a patient and effective rushing attack of their own, headed by Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey.  Syracuse has been clicking recently, and already looks like a different team than the one that got throttled 45-14 by Pittsburgh.  The Orange have been successful on the road, and I do not see them changing their execution at home.  PICK - Syracuse 19, Louisville 14   
Posted on: November 3, 2010 3:40 pm
 

Louisville shuffling RB's for Syracuse game

Posted by Chip Patterson

When looking at the Big East, it is rare that you consider any aspect of the eight teams a "force," but the Louisville rushing attack is one of the few nationally recognized aspects of the conference.  Senior running back Bilal Powell leads the Big East in rushing with 1,067 yards already on the season, good enough for fifth in the nation as well.  Louisville is not exactly a player in the Big East title hunt at this point, but at 4-4 the Cardinal are still very much in the running for one of the conference's bowl berths.  Which is why Powell's potential absence against Syracuse on Saturday presents a problem for Charlie Strong's squad. 

Powell is the first Louisville running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since junior Victor Anderson did it his freshman year.  Anderson has missed the last three games due to a shoulder injury, but has been cleared to play and back in practice this week.  Anderson has been in "full pads, full contact, the whole deal," according to offensive coordinator Mike Sanford.  

Anderson will likely find himself right in the mix against a stout Orange defense due to Powell left the Pittsburgh game with a knee injury, and has missed practice this week due to swelling in that knee.  As of now, Strong has ruled Powell as a game-time decision.  Louisville will need Anderson to step up against the Syracuse defense, which has held the opposition to 14 points or less in the six victories on the season.  
 
 
 
 
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